Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez praised the attitude of his Uruguay players after they grabbed a late winner against Egypt despite an insipid performance.
La Celeste had been fancied to excel in a weak-looking Group A but they were lifeless for long spells against an Egypt side who stood up well against Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
But Jose Gimenez headed in an 89th minute winner from a free kick to get Tabarez’s team off to the perfect start, and the manager was delighted with the outcome.
“To win matches in this group means we will be able to progress,” said Tabarez, per BBC Sport. “We either die or we kill and the experience today will help us grow, but we can’t make too much of it.
“Sometimes the ball will go to the back of the net, sometimes it won’t but we are always looking to score. I’m very happy with the attitude of the team and how they played.”
Egypt talisman Mo Salah was declared fit on the eve of the match after recovering from a shoulder injury, but manager Hector Cuper decided not to risk his best player, with more winnable games against Russia and Saudi Arabia to come.
The Pharoahs appeared to lack a cutting edge without Salah, and Tabarez acknowledged that it would have been a tougher challenge for his defence if the Liverpool man had been playing.
“Egypt played very well, a very good game, but I imagine with Mo Salah, if he had been in top form Egypt would have benefited with him on the pitch, but we will never know,” said Tabarez.
Uruguay face Saudi Arabia, who lost 5-0 to Russia in the opening game of the tournament, in their second match on Wednesday.